Kingdon House, formerly the premises of the Tavistock Printing Company


Heritage Category:
Listed Building
List Entry Number:
Date first listed:
Date of most recent amendment:
Statutory Address:
Kingdon House, Pym Street, Tavistock, Devon, PL19 0AW


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Statutory Address:
Kingdon House, Pym Street, Tavistock, Devon, PL19 0AW

The building or site itself may lie within the boundary of more than one authority.

West Devon (District Authority)
National Grid Reference:


A purpose-built former print works and newspaper office in Arts and Crafts style, built in 1906, by Arthur Southcombe Parker, FRIBA (1865-1945), now (2015) an arts and community centre.

Reasons for Designation

Kingdon House, formerly the premises of the Tavistock Printing Company, a small-scale Arts and Crafts industrial building built to a design by Arthur Southcombe Parker in 1906, is listed at Grade II, for the following principal reasons: * Architectural interest: the building demonstrates good quality in architectural style, in an accomplished Arts and Crafts manner, by a known regional architect; it makes good use of a difficult and constrained site to add to the interest of its massing and composition; * Degree of survival: the building is largely unaltered since completion, except for the subdivision of the interior, which has not damaged the legibility of the spaces; * Group value: with the other listed buildings surrounding, including the Freemasons Hall on North Street, the Sir Francis Drake public house on Pym Street (both listed at Grade II), and the other civic buildings constructed in this quarter in the early years of the C20.


The building was constructed as a purpose-built print works with offices for the Tavistock Gazette, in 1906, to designs by Arthur Southcombe Parker, FRIBA. Southcombe Parker, born in Exeter had trained with architects across the country before moving to Plymouth in 1891 and setting up in his own practice in 1894, from where he began to carry out work in Tavistock, where much investment had been made throughout the C19 by the Russell family, the Earls and Dukes of Bedford, who owned most of the land and property in the town, and had provided most of Tavistock’s civic buildings. In 1890, the 10th Duke of Bedford’s office began overseeing a major project, developing a commercial and civic area along the new road driven from Bedford Square to the recently-opened railway station. Southcombe Parker may have been involved in the design of many of the buildings in this new commercial and civic quarter, which included banks, a club, and offices for the Urban District Council, were built from 1895 to 1909. The creation of the new buildings on the west side of Drake Road could not begin until new premises had been constructed for the Tavistock Gazette and Printing Company, which occupied a building at 4 Bedford Square. As a result, in 1906, Southcombe Parker designed a new building for the company in an Arts and Crafts style on a constrained and steeply-sloping corner site at the junction of North Street and Pym Street, just to the rear of the new development area. The large windows on the west-facing elevation were intended to allow in the maximum amount of light to the presses.

Arthur Southcombe Parker, who had been elected FRIBA in 1903, continued to work extensively in Plymouth, where he undertook a large number of new commissions, many of which were destroyed in the Blitz on Plymouth in the Second World War. He also worked on many of the city’s historic buildings, and designed buildings elsewhere in Tavistock and across Devon until his death in 1945.

The Tavistock Gazette and Print Company continued to occupy the building until 1974, when the newspaper ceased to be printed. The building remained empty until the late 1970s, when it was taken on by the Kingdon House Community Association and converted into an arts and community centre. It was named after Eric Kingdon, the last editor of the Tavistock Gazette, who became the chair of the committee which raised the funds for the conversion.


A purpose-built former print works and newspaper office in Arts and Crafts style, built in 1906, by Arthur Southcombe Parker, FRIBA (1865-1945), now (2015) an arts and community centre.

MATERIALS: random squared rubble with ashlar dressings, under slate roofs, with a stone stack.

PLAN: roughly square corner site with a curved corner to the junction of Pym Street and North Street.

EXTERIOR: the building is constructed on rising ground, with two full storeys to the North Street elevation and a higher rear section to Pym Street. The North Street elevation, of four bays, has a curved corner bay to the ground floor, canted above. The elevation has semi-circular arched, keyed openings to the ground floor, the three from the left with three-light timber casements, that to the right housing half-glazed double doors; all the arched sections have multi-paned glazing. The cast-iron rainwater goods have a moulded rectangular rainwater head. To the first floor, the three right-hand windows, with three lights of rectangular leaded glazing, are set high under a timber modillion cornice. The canted corner bay has a four-light stone-mullioned window turning the corner, with a string course and parapet above. The parapet continues around the corner onto the Pym Street elevation, which is of three irregular bays. The land rises from right to left; a narrow blind bay first, with a slightly projecting, tall stack to the next, stepping out over a Diocletian window in a keyed opening, its glazing matching that to the North Street elevation. The parapet terminates to the side of the final wide, gabled bay, which is of two storeys but rises a full storey higher than the North Street elevation. To the ground floor left is an elaborate classical timber doorcase with panelled reveals, a broken pediment and swags; to its right a two-light stone mullioned window, and to the centre of the gable to the first floor, a three-light stone-mullioned window, with the string course forming a cill band, and a plan hood mould with a visible relieving arch above. The remains of the former Art-Nouveau style lettering which formerly read “[Tavistock] PRINTING [Company] runs along the parapet.

INTERIOR: the former print hall was situated to the North Street side of the building, with the newspaper offices to the Pym Street side, behind their separate entrance. The floors are supported on steel beams. The roofs have timber king-post trusses, now obscured by suspended ceilings. The interior has been subdivided into a number of meeting rooms and offices, but retains some details such as wrought-iron window furniture and stained glass panels.


The contents of this record have been generated from a legacy data system.

Legacy System number:
Legacy System:


Fyfield-Shayler, B A : Arthur Southcombe Parker FRIBA, 1865-1945 (unpublished brief biography)


This building is listed under the Planning (Listed Buildings and Conservation Areas) Act 1990 as amended for its special architectural or historic interest.

End of official listing

Images of England

Images of England was a photographic record of every listed building in England, created as a snap shot of listed buildings at the turn of the millennium. These photographs of the exterior of listed buildings were taken by volunteers between 1999 and 2008. The project was supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund.

Date: 17 Oct 2005
Reference: IOE01/13971/06
Rights: Copyright IoE Mr Richard Spreadborough. Source Historic England Archive
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